The KKK is coming to Charlottesville, Virginia.
The white-hooded, white supremacist group is planning a rally in Charlottesville on July 8 and emotions, as expected, are running high.
Some whites in Charlottesville are still fuming after the city approved the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee in 2012, which sparked an ongoing debate about eliminating Confederate monuments.
The KKK plans to spread its message of hate in Charlottesville on Saturday and some African-American activists say the best way to deal with the KKK is to ignore the rally. Some Black community leaders are asking Black residents to avoid the KKK event altogether because they are concerned about the potential for violence.
“We’re here because we wanted to provide the community with an opportunity to not only have their voices heard, but also inform everyone that strategy, not emotion, is what is needed right now,” Charlottesville Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy said last month during a community meeting.
A Charlottesville faith group, The Charlottesville Clergy Collective, is planning diplomatic events to promote peace and racial understanding in advance of the KKK rally. They are not intending to spark a confrontation.
Here’s a fact: White supremacist groups are on the rise since President Donald Trump was elected in 2016 and hate groups are feeling more emboldened after the presidential election.
Community leaders in Charlottesville also said Unity and Security for America, another conservative group, has scheduled a rally in Charlottesville for Aug. 12 – another day of potentially hateful rhetoric. Their website suggests an anti-immigrant ideology and a violent strategy against their opponents.
“Street action is one the best, most unique qualities of Unity and Security. We can stand up to a mob of frothing Leftists and win,” according to the website.
The KKK rally comes as archaeologists are excavating an area of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello mansion and have uncovered the living quarters of Sally Hemings, the enslaved woman, who, historians believe, gave birth to six of Jefferson’s children.
“This discovery gives us a sense of how enslaved people were living. Some of Sally’s children may have been born in this room,” said Gardiner Hallock, director of restoration for Jefferson’s mountaintop plantation, standing on a red-dirt floor inside a dusty rubble-stone room built in 1809. “It’s important because it shows Sally as a human being — a mother, daughter, and sister — and brings out the relationships in her life.”
I visited Charlottesville in April and learned that Hemings’ quarters revealed the original brick hearth and fireplace, the brick structure for a stove and the original floors from the early 1800s.
It’s a fascinating and important part of American history. Today, Hemings’ room is being restored for eventual public viewing. Monticello’s curators are working diligently to incorporate Hemings’ life as part of Jefferson’s comprehensive story, which counters old newspaper accounts citing Hemings as Jefferson’s “concubine.”
But there are some white supremacists who are opposed to Monticello’s research about Charlottesville’s Black history and many, decades later, still won’t accept that the Civil War was fought over slavery.
The KKK rally will surely open old wounds – and perhaps create new ones – but Black citizens in Charlottesville should show restraint and ignore the ignorant rants from obsolete racists.
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